WASHINGTON, DC — November 6, 2003 — “Today’s Senate resolution to move forward with country of origin labeling (COOL) for meat is a step backwards for the very cattlemen this program is supposed to benefit,” said John Motley, senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), commenting on the Sense of the Senate vote to support funding the regulations to implement the law.

“The sense of this Senate resolution is nonsense.” Motley said. “At a first-year cost of up to $3.9 billion and with no assurance whatsoever that COOL will increase sales of any of the products it covers, the law itself should be repealed. At the very least, implementation should be delayed for all the products covered, including fresh and frozen produce, seafood and peanuts.”

“In fact, a recent survey found that 62 percent of the nation’s producers oppose the law in its current form and want it changed or repealed.” FMI commissioned the survey by Wilson Research Strategies, which released the results in mid-October.

“Researchers at Iowa State University estimate that COOL will increase the cost of U.S. pork production by 10 percent and lead more consumers to buy less expensive poultry products,” Motley said, citing the 2003 study “Impact of Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling of U.S. Pork Exports.”

Motley went on to say, “COOL will undermine the market for meat in North America, where products are moved freely across borders. The law requires labels to declare each country on meat from livestock that spent time in multiple countries (e.g., born in Mexico, raised in the U.S., slaughtered in Canada). To limit the confusion, retailers will source products from as few countries as possible and, where feasible, from a single country — and not necessarily the U.S. — thereby undermining the law’s intent to promote sales of U.S. products.

“Supermarkets across the U.S. voluntarily label the origin — often to promote the products of state and local producers. A mandate will undermine these programs as retailers will be forced to comply with a needless and costly law.”

A Sense of the Senate Resolution cannot change legislation. The COOL funding issue is expected to be settled by a House-Senate conference committee.